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Recast: radio station music without the radio station

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 21 April 2015, 6.00am edt

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Recast, a new website and iPhone app, relaunches today, promising to "tune in to the playlists of your favourite radio stations without any of the usual inconvenience and interruptions".

The service monitors the songs played on radio stations across the world. Using the music curation of those radio stations, it then links with your Rdio or Spotify account to play the same music that the radio station would typically play.

The service is free, and works with free Spotify accounts. It includes a wide variety of radio station streams, which you navigate by using logos.

Stations present in the service include pages for Global Radio's XFM, KCRW and iHeartMedia's flagship KIIS-FM Los Angeles. You navigate the service using bright, clear station logos. Other channels include BBC Radio 1, NRJ and TripleJ.

The company operates from Cape Town in South Africa. While at first glance it appears to be simply stealing music curation from radio stations, the owner of Recast claims that its data is useful to radio. In an interview for Ventureburn, owner Richard Oakley says:

As [the listener] favourites and skips through tracks, we’re storing all this analytics about him which means that we can go back to 5FM and tell them that people who want to listen to 5FM hates Taylor Swift 30% more this week than they did last week. We also provide a bunch of other tools that can help radio station test new songs before playing it to half a million listeners.

The same interview criticises the radio industry for having poor measurement, and says that "the industry is going the same way as print". However, Oakley highlights that radio stations "have already built the best playlists".

Recast is on desktop and also has an iOS app.

James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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Comments

2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing James! If anyone has any questions, I'll do my best to answer them - in true Internet style, consider this an AMA :)

2 years, 5 months ago

Sounds good... when can we expect it for Android?

2 years, 5 months ago

Hey James! We've only just started work on the Android version, but it's definitely on the roadmap, and should be ready in the next few months. I'll make sure to add you to the beta list :)

2 years, 5 months ago

Count me in, I'll be happy to test. Will try it through Chrome in the car in the meantime.

2 years, 5 months ago

If anyone is interested in reading a little more about the background to Recast, I just published a post on what we're trying to build.

2 years, 5 months ago

Not a new concept - but it's the first that I have seen this way.

Some radio apps have a Likey / No Likey button that you can press whenever a song appears on their playlist and as playing live, including Your Radio in Clydebank. How much attention they pay to respondents of the App who use that button I do not know.

2 years, 5 months ago

Hi Art!

You're so right - nothing's new in the world of tech, so Recast is more of a new spin on things that are already there - broadcast radio and music streaming.

Some of the more interesting stuff I've seen in this space of measuring live response to radio was from Futuri Media.

My theory is that a 'skip' will be more valuable than a 'dislike', just because it shows such clear intention to not hear it any more (as opposed to just not liking it much), but it's going to be interesting to see whether that holds true as we start collecting more data.

2 years, 5 months ago

What about being able to mash up stations? For example, I could ask for a hybrid of, say, Heart and Smooth but then be able to press skip whenever Thinking Out Bleedin' Loud comes on.

2 years, 5 months ago

We're definitely thinking about ways to create 'new' stations out of what's already there - the idea of combining two stations is a new one - definitely something I'm keen to experiment with, and see what it sounds like. Great idea!

PRO2 years, 5 months ago

I see you have Absolute Radio and not the decades stations which are full of poorly scheduled adverts and trailers for the Breakfast show etc.

I look forward to testing Recast out when you add Absolute 80s etc.

2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the comment Martin!

The other Absolute streams are definitely on the way, and I'll let you know as soon as they are available for streaming (shouldn't be more than a week)

2 years, 5 months ago

Take a look at MyRadio.nl if you can get round the Geoblock.

2 years, 5 months ago

This looks really cool - thanks James!

PRO2 years, 5 months ago

My theory is that a 'skip' will be more valuable than a 'dislike', just because it shows such clear intention to not hear it any more (as opposed to just not liking it much)

Hmm. I built a prototype for Virgin Radio a while back - there must have been a series of The Apprentice on, because it had an interface that said:

[ ] Hired   [ ] Fired   [ ] Tired

...the idea being that sometimes repetition is simply too high, and I'd like a rest from a track - 'tired', similar to a skip - while sometimes I really dislike a song and never want to hear it again, 'fired', similar to a dislike.

2 years, 5 months ago

Haha, I love the Apprentice-style choices!

I agree 100% - there's a big difference between being slightly tired of a track, and not wanting to hear it at all. It's going to be interesting to see. I think it might be the case that there's a fairly steep drop-off from that moment that people feel like they could do with a break from the track (tired) and that they just want to skip it (fired), and I'm hoping Recast can act as a good measure of when that drop-off in interest is going to happen.

2 years, 5 months ago

Very slick!

I just listened to all the music from BBC 6Music, and all the music from Absolute Radio, using my free Spotify login, with seemingly unlimited skipping. I heard no public service content from the BBC, no ads from Absolute, and no ads from Spotify.

Beyond the 'who skipped this track' data, how do the companies who are paying for the music rights get any value from this?

2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the feedback Michael, and good question.

The people responsible for the music rights for any plays are the streaming services - Rdio and Spotify, as we are simply using the radio station's streams to identify the songs, rather than broadcast recordings of them or anything like that.

So in your case, Spotify is paying music rights every time you stream a track. Our Spotify playback on web is quite hacky at the moment, but we're busy chatting to them about it, and I imagine that the end result will be that you will need a Premium account for listening (which is the case on the iPhone app), or something like that.

Longer-term, we're going to see whether it's viable to cover the streaming ourselves, so that you don't need to log in with a streaming service at all. Here's hoping!

2 years, 5 months ago

This could be an interesting development and probably a bit of bad news for those music (sorry - station ident) intensive services that have microscopic moments of actual content between the songs. Why should listeners tolerate adverts, idents, adverts, idents, bloke saying station name etc., when they can now hear the same music played without the interruptions?

However, if radio stations actually put out interesting and/or entertaining content between the songs that make people want to listen to them, then radio stations need not worry too much.

2 years, 5 months ago

Agreed Art - I don't think music streaming is ever a match for great radio with interesting content, but it definitely can be for stations who are offering nothing more than an interrupted stream of music. Listeners now have more options than ever when they're just looking for that lean-back music experience, and that shift is already happening (especially in younger audiences). I think (and hope) that Recast has an opportunity to fit in that space between the two - listening to your favourite show on radio, and just listening to music - as an alternative to Pandora, Spotify or YouTube. If they're going to switch anyway, at least Recast is 'net good' for radio by collecting useful data, and preserving some form of the relationship between listener and station.

2 years, 5 months ago

I like MyRadio for the fact you can insert news, weather and travel as you wish. I would love something that gave me lots of local information and content, but with music chosen by parameters I set. Effectively it takes the Jack FM idea but puts it on a streaming service. I particularly like the "sliders" approach of MyRadio to give bias to certain decades or themes.

PRO2 years, 5 months ago

The Belgian version of Nostalgie has Absolute style decades spin-off stations, all advert free with only sweepers and a TOTH ident between the records. Works perfectly for me as a listener who streams Nostalgie 80.

2 years, 5 months ago

Really interesting! I think it's a tough balance and an interesting problem that radio faces - how much control over 'curation' of music etc to give to a listener, and how much of what makes radio great is precisely that the station decides what to play. There's also quite a range of control that listeners probably want over the station too - on the one hand, people who want to alter music and insert their own podcasts etc and, on the other, people who want to just kick back and listen (like Nostalgia 80). Interestingly, I think it's the same question facing the music streaming - how to cater for people searching for a Pandora-like-stream experience, as well as those looking for an iTunes-in-the-cloud.

2 years, 5 months ago

The interesting thing is I've been trying out the Heart playlist... It's virtually spot on! I like how it's pulled in tracks from Club Classics, resulting in a really hot sound. Like it.

2 years, 5 months ago

Ah, that is so great to hear - thanks James!

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